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Driver caught playing Pokemon Go on 8 phones along Washington hwy

A Washington State Trooper found a driver on the side of SR 518 playing Pokemon Go on eight smartphones at the same time. (Washington State Patrol)

When it comes to Pokemon Go, “you got to catch them all.” So why not cast a wide net, or in this man’s case — use eight phones at once while driving along the freeway.

“It’s amazing what people come up with to be distracted,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson said.

Johnson explains that on Tuesday night, Sergeant Kyle Smith was driving eastbound along SR 518, just east of SR 99 and near Sea-Tac Airport. That’s when he noticed a car pulled over to the shoulder of the highway. Smith pulled over to see if there was an emergency or if the vehicle was disabled.

Pokemon game makes police departments nervous

What he found, instead, was the driver tending to eight smartphones running different games of Pokemon Go. They were all neatly nestled in a foam casing, to ensure they were secure for optimal Pokemon hunting on the road.

“The shoulders of any limited-access freeway are for emergency purposes only,” Trooper Johnson said. “Maybe this individual thought it was an emergency to catch what he wanted to catch.”

People walking from place-to-place while playing Pokemon Go is common. The game is designed to have players explore different areas to catch different Pokemon, then play others at meet up spots. People driving from place-to-place, searching for new Pokemon to catch, is not unheard of.

In fact, when the game first came out in 2016, one entrepreneurial Seattle-area driver offered to drive players around to different stops — for $20 an hour.

The driver on SR 518 had taken things to another level, however, with an organized display of smartphones.

“It’s hard to figure out a way where that is not distracting,” Johnson said.

“(The sergeant) didn’t see him driving and being distracted by this,” he said. “But anybody can guess he’s watching that while he’s driving and pulling over for this game to catch whatever he’s trying to catch. The concern is that he’s going to continue on and be distracted.”

The trooper asked the driver to put the eight phones in the back seat and to continue on down the highway.

Trooper Johnson notes that this is not the first incident with Pokemon Go on the road. He assumes there are other situations involving bikes or pedestrians as well.

“When this game first came out, I remember we had one collision on SR 202,” he recalled. “We were able to directly relate the crash to the driver playing this game — and then they rear-ended another vehicle.”

That was back in 2016. A male driver in a Honda admitted to playing the game when he crashed into the back of another car, with a mom and child inside. At the time, it was called Washington’s first “catch and drive” incident.

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